Unconventional Precedent: Two First Ladies of Senegal at the Presidential Palace

In a unique moment in Senegal’s political landscape, Basserou Diomaye Faye, just minutes before the end of the country’s presidential election campaign, made a deliberate gesture on stage, holding the hands of his wives, Marie and Absa. After receiving applause from thousands of supporters, the self-proclaimed “candidate for estrangement and African unity” publicly revealed his polygamy, a traditional and religious practice deeply ingrained in Senegalese culture.

Polygamy has always been a controversial topic in Senegal, a country that is over 90% Muslim. The practice is criticized by many women who see it as a form of discrimination against them. A report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2022 concluded that polygamy discriminates against women and should be abolished. However, many men in Senegal view it as an important part of their culture and see it as a way to expand their families.

Faye’s public appearance with his two wives reignited the discussion on polygamy in the media, on social media, and among families. It elicited mixed reactions with some seeing it as a signal for other men to be transparent about their polygamous relationships while others condemned it as an act of disrespect towards women.

Despite its prevalence, some see the public display of polygamy by Faye as a signal for other men to be transparent about their polygamous relationships. Faye has taken responsibility for his polygamy thanking his wives for their support and emphasizing the beauty of their family. With the election of a polygamous president questions have arisen about the protocol surrounding multiple wives in the presidential palace. The practice continues to spark debates highlighting the complexities and contradictions within Senegal’s cultural norms.

Mary Khun, Faye’s first wife whom he married fifteen years ago and with whom he has four children comes from his village. He married his second wife Absa about a year ago. Polygamy has always been a controversial topic in Senegal especially among women who see it as an act of discrimination against them.

A report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2022 concluded that polygamy discriminates against women and should be abolished. Mariama Ba criticized polygamy in her novel “A Very Long Letter,” highlighting the sufferings of women in such marriages.

Faye’s public display has sparked debates among senegalese people on whether or not this tradition should continue to exist especially considering its impact on society’s norms and values.

By Samantha Johnson

As a content writer at newsnmio.com, I craft engaging and informative articles that aim to captivate readers and provide them with valuable insights. With a background in journalism and a passion for storytelling, I thoroughly enjoy delving into diverse topics, conducting research, and producing compelling content that resonates with our audience. From breaking news pieces to in-depth features, I strive to deliver content that is both accurate and engaging, constantly seeking to bring fresh perspectives to our readers. Collaborating with a talented team of editors and journalists, I am committed to maintaining the high standards of journalism upheld by our publication.

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